Saturday, November 19, 2022

Republicans need to embrace early voting, learn to "cure" and "harvest" mail-in ballots, and meddle in Democrat primaries.

by Rod Williams, Nov. 18, 2022 - Now that the dust has settled from the mid-term election, it is safe to say that Republicans "underperformed." There was no Tsunami, no red wave; there was barely a pink trickle. 

I am not disappointed. I did not want to see Republicans loyal to Donald Trump constitute a supermajority.  I put loyalty to our nation above loyalty to Donald Trump. I did not want to see people holding office who would only certify election results if their party won. I am pleased that the worst of the election deniers lost. I did my part to help achieve this outcome. For the first time in my life, I contributed money to Democrats. In several races, I sent money to the Democrat opponents of the worst of the Trumpinistas.  

While I did not want to see election-denying Trump loyalists take control of the legislative branch, at the same time, I did not want to see a clear Democrat majority that could advance the Biden agenda. What we got was gridlock. While the Dems control the Senate, not much legislation will make it past the Republican-controlled House to make it to the Senate. Given the circumstances, we got the best outcome possible.

Under normal circumstances, Republicans should have won big.  With an unpopular president, high inflation, a crime wave, a southern border out of control, an energy crisis, a pandemic response based on pandering to teachers' unions rather than public health concerns, public schools that dumb-down kids and indoctrinate them, and the still recent Afghanistan debacle, the Republicans should have easily taken back both chambers of Congress.  Instead, Republicans had the worst midterm performance of a party out of power in two decades, Where did Republicans go wrong?

I think the number one thing leading to this debacle is that the leader of the Republican Party is Donald Trump.  Not enough people wanted to vote for a party, whose leader tried to overthrow the government and prevent the peaceful transfer of power.  Also, Republicans had some loser candidates. Too many of our Republican candidates were conspiracy mongers and election deniers. Some were downright nut jobs. Trump's handpicked election-denying candidates underperformed horribly. I hope this Republican underperformance results in a diminishing of Donald Trump and the nomination of fewer nutjobs candidates. 

I think it was not only trump and Trumpinista candidates that are the reason for a poor Republican performance, however. There are other things that I think contributed to a Republican loss and these are things that need to be fixed.  Below are three campaign strategy changes I would recommend to the Republican Party. 

Embrace Early voting.

Democrats are more likely to vote early than Republicans. This is generally true but not universal. In Florida, more Republicans vote early than do Democrats. Forbes reports that among the states that report early voters’ party affiliations, 43% of ballots were cast by Democrats and 34% were cast by Republicans (1). I am unsure why Republicans tend to shun early voting but we should embrace it and get out the early vote. Instead of the twentieth email or text or US mail solicitation to vote for candidate X, some of those solicitations should be to vote for candidate X and vote early.

A vote cast early means that a voter cannot change his mind due to a last-minute political development, or cannot fail to vote because of work obligations, family obligations, accident, illness, or death. An early vote is a vote in the bank. Republicans need an early voting strategy.

Learn to live with mail-in ballots and engage in ballot harvesting and promote ballot curing.

I would like to see mail-in voting curtailed. While there has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud tied to mail-in voting, the potential is there.  In 2020 due to the Covid pandemic, many states liberalized their requirements for early voting, some without legislative action but in response to court orders. I support legislative action to roll back mail-in ballot voting and efforts to regulate who can pick up and deliver mail-in ballots. While trying to do that, however, Republicans need to learn to compete with Democrats for the mail-in vote. 

There are three strategies for winning the mail-in vote.  Republicans should encourage mail-in voting among eligible Republicans, should make sure Republicans take advantage of available ballot curing and Republicans should engage in legal ballot harvesting.

Republicans should target the Republican elderly and other Republican voters who may be eligible to vote by mail with advertisements informing them of the process and urging them to take advantage of it. 

Ballot curing is the process of fixing a defective ballot after it is mailed in. A lot of mail-in ballots are initially rejected because of failure to follow procedures. Rejected ballots could make a big difference in the outcome of a close election. Rejected ballots may be rejected because something like the signature on the outside of the envelope does not match the signature on file. This may be "cured." It may be as simple as filing an affidavit with the election officials that says something like, "Mrs. John Doe is the same person as Ms. Jane Doe." Democrats are much better than Republicans about checking to make sure mail-in ballots are counted and if not, contacting Democrat voters and telling them how to "fix" or "cure" a defective ballot. Republicans need to be as good as Democrats at this.

Ballot harvesting is the process of someone going out and calling on voters to collect from them the mail-in ballot they were mailed. I think this process should be banned or greatly curtailed. In my view, all mail-in ballots should be returned by US mail. Even if that is the case, there is still room for someone to knock on a door, help the voter fill out the ballot, collect it from them, and put it in the mailbox for them. 

The campaign worker doing this only calls on the people who are of his party. This kind of ballot harvesting works well in assisted living facilities and nursing homes. Democrats are much better at doing this than Republicans. Republicans need to get as good as Democrats at this form of campaigning. When you think about it, this is not much different than giving elderly nursing home voters a ride to the polls on election day.  You only give people of your party the ride. While Republicans may be squeamish about ballot harvesting, as long as it is legal, we need to be as good as the Democrats about doing it. 

Meddle in Democrat primaries.

Perhaps the most important thing Republicans could do to improve their chances in the next election is to meddle in Democrat primaries. 

In the Republican primaries prior to the 2022 midterm election, Democrats threw a lot of money into the campaign of the most Trumpinista of Republicans. They spent more than $40 million boosting the candidacy of six GOP candidates. These radical Trumpinista Republicans beat their more mainstream primary challengers and the Trumpinista Republicans won their primary. The strategy was to nominate the most easily beatable Republicans. It worked. The Trumpinistas won the primary and all six lost to their Democratic challenger in the General Election.  

While this practice may appear distasteful, Republicans need to fight fire with fire and play the game. Republicans should help the most extreme Democrats in Democratic primaries.  We should help nominate the most beatable Democrats. 

Now, this would not work everywhere.  There are Democrat strongholds where a candidate could not be too woke or too leftist to be elected. No doubt there are some urban congressional districts in college towns where a committed Maoist would not be too extreme for the electorate. There are districts, however, where the Democrat voters are not totally committed leftists and where a moderate Republican could beat a super woke, super leftist Democrat. In those districts, we need to nominate the worst Democrat we can find.

What would these candidates look like? It would be a candidate who advocates or has advocated defunding the police.  It would be someone who favors open borders, and pro-illegal immigration policies. Such policies as welfare benefits for illegals and giving illegals the right to vote, defunding ICE and Border Patrol, or tearing down the Trump border wall.  It would be someone who advocates a national law to permit unrestricted abortion up until birth and the government pay for the abortion. It would be someone who wants to forgive all student loans and make college free. It would be someone who supports what is called "gender-affirming" policies. It would be Democrats who do not shy away from advocating support for "democratic socialism."

In addition to the candidate taking these radical positions, the candidate needs to be on the record taking these positions so that in the general election, a graphic presentation of out-of-control crime can be shown along with a film clip of the candidate saying we need to defund the police, preferably before a cheering crowd.  Or, the out-of-control border can be shown with the candidate advocating tearing down the Trump wall. There might only be half a dozen districts where this can work, but that can make a difference in which party has control of Congress. 

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